What do I say to dd or sister?

This issue started years ago with my older sister going into screaming rages two years in a row at Christmas, one at my dd, the second year at me. (My sister has a 20+ year history of meltdowns at various people, including sales clerks and neighbor children.) It got worse when I realized my entire family actually blamed me for this. In the years since, I have come to see how truly dysfunctional my family is, with my father being an alcoholic and an exhibitionist. I have quit going to family functions because I understood that there was no way I could ever please them. (One example, if I watch each of my 10 kids, I’m accused of being anti-social; if I socialize, then I’m accused of not watching my children.) I was told years ago at this forum that the ONLY answer is physical distance.

So today, the older kids went to the extended family picnic, and I took the younger ones to the zoo. My sister just dropped off the older kids, and sent one son in to tell the younger kids she wanted to say hello. I thought I’d be nice, extend an olive branch, and go out. She ignored me completely for the ten minutes she was here, laughing and chatting, giving horse rides to the little boys, hugging dd16, inviting her to come for a weekend to do quilting…and all of this in my front yard, three feet from me, with my children, treating me like I didn’t exist.

There’s no chance I’m going to expend time and money making sure dd gets up to her house (which is a few hours away) for quilting when she can’t so much as say hello to me.

Last time my sister invited dd to join her and my mother for a mother-daughter tea, (no invitation for me), I said that weekend wouldn’t work. Do I continue to say each weekend won’t work, or do I tell dd that I’m not going to spend a fortune in time and gas to make sure she has a relationship with someone who treats me like this? My husband says it’s a question of how much I want to put a 16yo in the middle of things. I don’t want to, and yet I don’t like leaving her thinking I’ll do something someday that I have no intention of doing.

Do I say something to my sister?

I don’t see how talking to your sister about your relationship with her would put your daughter in the middle. It actually would be beneficial if your daughter would like to visit her aunt and cousins, but cannot because of your and your sister’s conflict with one another.

He meant telling dd why I won’t be taking her up would be putting her in the middle. Unfortunately, the more I think about it, talking to my sister will be worse than useless. I already talked to her about the screaming incident, and she’s very much of the mind that I was really the cause. No amount of talking will change that.

Sorry it’s really late and I’m tired but what is “dd”?

“Dear Daughter”

From what you’ve written it seems that your sister is manipulating you and your family. Some people are extremely difficult but have a way of having their behaviour excused by family members. I have someone like that as well and understand very well what that is like. If I were you I would not allow anyone treat me with disrespect in front of my kids. Your daughter should not be led to believe that it is ok for her aunt to be rude to you, while being super nice to her. I would not take dd16 quilting or to ‘mother-daughter’ tea when the mother - you, is obviously excluded. if you can talk to your sister and discuss this in a mature way, than great. If not, keep things under control by being very selective of how you socialise with her. Occasional family get-together is not a bad idea if she is capable of being civil but keep her at a safe distance. It is a shame that your kids will miss out on family time but it is your sister that is choosing to behave in a certain way and pushing you all away. Don’t let her manipulate you.

I don’t understand why, after making what seems to be an exceedingly prudent decision to simply distance yourself from this person, one of those reasons being her unacceptable behavior toward one of your children, that you now allow your children to spend time with her, even to the extent of allowing her to supervise them and drive them home.

The children in question are 17 and 14. They went to the gathering with their older brother, and I expected he would also drive them home.

A tough situation. But you are correct, talking to her or any of your family who supports her behavior would be a waste of time.

What you really have to guard against at this time is that she may undermine your authority with your teenagers by dismissing your standards while they are with her. She may come off as the “fun aunt” who just wants to let them have more freedom, and in so doing, she may seriously affect your family’s morals and values. For example, she could say that you are an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy and a prude, and that sex is not only normal for teens but healthy for them. :eek: If the teens have a weak spot or are looking for support that way, the damage can be done quite easily.

Other than never allowing them to be in her presence alone, I’m not sure what you can do.

Speak to your older son first, who didn’t bring his siblings back from the picnic. Then tell all your older children, that while they are allowed to go to certain larger family gatherings, they are not allowed to spend time alone with this aunt. Explain why. Certainly if your sister truly was in a screaming rage, they remember. Tell them that because aunt X has an unstable temper, you don’t want them to be in a situation where she loses her temper and they don’t have any way out (a ride home, other people there to defuse the situation, etc.)

If you’d like your kids to be close to certain memebers of the family, then make special occasions for that. Invite just your parents over for dinner or take certain cousins out shopping - invitations that can be exclusive without obviously leaving aunt X out and causing moer problems with your extended family.

Speak to your older son first, who didn’t bring his siblings back from the picnic. Then tell all your older children, that while they are allowed to go to certain larger family gatherings, they are not allowed to spend time alone with this aunt. Explain why. Certainly if your sister truly was in a screaming rage, they remember. Tell them that because aunt X has an unstable temper, you don’t want them to be in a situation where she loses her temper and they don’t have any way out (a ride home, other people there to defuse the situation, etc.)

If you’d like your kids to be close to certain memebers of the family, then make special occasions for that. Invite just your parents over for dinner or take certain cousins out shopping - invitations that can be exclusive without obviously leaving aunt X out and causing moer problems with your extended family.

except that it sounds like you cant win for losing with your extended family. and you already know that. if you wont go to outings with them (smart move), dont let your kids either-- unless they’re adults. because if YOU cant navigate the drama of these people, why do you think your teen kids will fare better? they’re not exempt. manipulative relatives can be masters at schmoozing info from talkative teens and twisting it all around.

you already know you cant win with these people.

For what it’s worth I would just explain honestly to your daughter your relationship with your sister. I would then say that this is why she (or any member of the family) is not allowed to ever visit your sister.

If you sister complains to you tell her you and your family want nothing to do with her ever.

We have had a difficult relationship with one of my aunts (and by had, meaning we have no relationship at all at this point). She is manipulative, immature, and dangerous (not going into why, to protect my family). When I was a teen, if we wanted to email her, fine. If she called, we could still pick it up. However, we were not to get into a car with her or to invite her in when parents were not home. Now, as an adult, my mother insists that I can have any relationship I want with her. I choose to have none. I have enough drama.

Now, I pray for her. I just don’t speak to her.

You can teach your kids that you still love her but that she’s not a good person to look up to, nor would you enjoy her company. You’re right to limit their contact with her. It’s not about “putting her in the middle,” it’s about making sure your kids don’t have to deal with unnecessary drama. They were right years ago: physical distance is necessary.

If I had children who were underage and still living under my roof I wouldn’t let them even associate with someone like this whether it be family are just some one that you know in other words I agree with puzzleannie’s post about this thread.

Thank you all for your posts. It never fails to amaze me, the difference between what my family sees and says, and what I hear here.

It is amazing how families have the power to completely hold us captive in unhealthy situations and make it sound like the most normal thing. I feel like I was brainwashed in my own family and hearing people say that what I went through was emotional abuse was difficult to understand and accept at first. I couldn’t believe that forgiving someone doesn’t mean having to put up with their crazy behaviour. This forum has served as a wonderful therapy session for me, as well as for a number of people who ask advice on how to handle difficult family members.

I’m happy that you got a different perspective on things and hope that you and your family will sort out this situation with your sister in the best possible way.

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